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Recycling And Emissions - Guzowski
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Recycling And Emissions - Guzowski

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    Recycling And Emissions - Guzowski Recycling And Emissions - Guzowski Presentation Transcript

    • Stuff = Climate Change Roger Guzowski April 2010 A change in focus to perk up stagnant recycling programs and promotions
    • Your next residents
      • The traditional-age first-year college & university student this year was born in 1991.
      • That’s 4 years after the Mobro Garbage Barge made it’s fateful journey.
      • They were 3 the year of the Supreme Court’s Carbone vs. Clarkstown flow-control decision.
      • Many/most have never known a local landfill. For them, waste has always been sent “away” to a landfill or combustion facility somewhere else.
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    • If your only goal is to keep stuff out of the landfill, littering does that as well as recycling. What makes recycling better than littering? Question:
    • Environmental benefits of recycling
      • Returning to our current college students (your future residents), the most formative environmental moment for most of them was the release of “An Inconvenient Truth” during their early-to-mid high school years.
      • To reach these new residents, as well as older residents we are currently missing, we need to move away from our “landfill diversion” dogma and develop metrics, systems and promotions that focus on the full lifecycle value of recycling.
      • Climate-based metrics such as the EPA’s WARM model show recycling benefits far better than diversion rate metrics do.
    • “ Traditional” Sector-based view of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions (2006)
      • Data from U.S. Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2006 (U.S. EPA 2008). Excludes emissions from U.S. Territories.
      • Source: “Opportunities to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Materials and Land Management Practices” by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (September 2009)
    • Systems-based view of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions (2006)
      • Data from U.S. Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2006 (U.S. EPA 2008). Excludes emissions from U.S. Territories.
      • Source: “Opportunities to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Materials and Land Management Practices” by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (September 2009)
    • 3 types of Climate Change benefits from recycling
    • Climate benefits from recycling – disposal emissions
      • Traditional disposal techniques generate methane in landfills or CO2 from combustion facilities.
      • Stop vilifying landfills and combustion facilities. Praise them for the pollution controls they have installed.
      • At the same time, explain how much more effective the recycling or composting of many products is at reducing those CO2 emissions.
    • Climate benefits from recycling – carbon sinks
      • In our older vernacular, we talked about protecting a particular species or minimizing damage to ecosystems from extraction of natural resources.
      • In a climate change vernacular, we are talking about preserving carbon sinks, the “lungs” of our planet, the plants and microorganisms that remove and store the CO2 out of the atmosphere that we emit into it.
    • Climate benefits from recycling – energy conservation
      • For many materials, it uses less energy to collect, process, and remanufacture recycled materials than to use “virgin” feedstocks, reducing our need for fossil fuels
      • If you went down the road to MIT and developed a new widget that cut energy use at a mill by 10%, climate change advocates would be lauding you as a hero…
      • Yet using as little as 30% recycled cullet to make a new bottle accomplishes exactly that, and gets little or no notice.
        • And worse yet, we are setting up recycling programs that ensure that cullet doesn’t get recycled back into a bottle.
      • Climate-minded students will spend hours trying to get a professor to shut off a desk lamp when they leave their office for lunch…
      • Yet too many don’t connect the dots and realize that had they better recycled the case of aluminum cans that got thrown away after a party, it would have saved the same energy as turning off that 60 watt desk lamp every lunch hour for a month (every lunch hour for the semester if that bulb was a CFL).
    • If every student at Smith College recycled just one additional sheet of paper per day...
      • Recycling that old paper into new products instead of throwing it into the landfill will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of about 29 tons of CO2.
      That’s the same as taking almost 6 cars off the road each year.
    • If every student at Mount Holyoke recycled just one extra aluminum can per week ...
      • The energy and resources saved from not manufacturing and transporting all those plastic bottles would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of over 4 tons of CO2 per year.
      That’s the same as removing more than 20 refrigerators from student rooms each year.
    • Changing the nature of the climate change discussion
      • Truly understanding the role of recycling in climate change requires a change in thinking about how we count carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions.
      • The question comes down to one of “What did you emit” vs. “what did you cause to be emitted.”
    • Traditional ghg inventories use a snow globe model, placing imaginary bubble over a geographic area, and counting the emissions that accumulate within the bubble.
      • Great for initial inventory to figure out how much is generated.
      • However in practice becomes a misleading and misused “don’t blame me, it didn’t happen in my snow globe” metric.
      • Under this paradigm, the best way to reduce your emissions is to move them out of your snow globe and into someone else’s.
    • To effect emissions, not just inventory them, I think we need a to look at footprint or lifecycle.
      • What did my consumption cause to be emitted, whether it was emitted in my snow globe or in someone else’s.
      • When you use this methodology, and look at the emissions and energy embedded in “stuff,” you start to see a very different picture.
    • The Great Britain Example
    • The Great Britain Example